“making an ardent effort to retain an inward peaceful flow of mind, free from roaming tendencies.”
Yoga Sutra 1:12
This statement is a definition of a Sanskrit term: abhyasa. I was introduced to this term on the first day of Yoga teacher training as a cornerstone to the substance of yoga. The short definition of the term is ‘practice’. That makes sense to me. Practice is required in the development of any skill. I believe that I am cultivating some good practices, including meditation, prayer, yoga, study, and application of learned principles and practices into my daily living experiences. I enjoy periods of inward peace. I look forward to teaching opportunities. I am sincerely practicing active listening. Sounds good, right?
Ardent effort? The dictionary defines this as characterized by intense feeling, passionate, enthusiastic, or intensely devoted and eager.
I find it easy to apply this definition to many aspects of my life. Yet there is a gnawing irritation deep inside. I picture myself during my early morning preparation for prayer, meditation and study. I am just not connecting with the thought of an intense degree of devotion to my practice.
As I ponder this irritation, I recognize that I don’t start my mornings with a happy dance. Maybe passion does not need to be expressed in a happy dance. Intense devotion? Well, I get my body out of bed in the morning but I am sure that an early morning selfie would not portray a vision of intensity. Scruffy? Maybe. Foggy? For sure. Definitely not intensely devoted.
However, there is a possibility that I am not giving myself quite enough credit. I am waking up and entering in to the presence of my God on a regular basis. I am observing a growing awareness of Divine presence during my day. I observe growth in my conscious contact with God, my family and all of you. I am observing a growing awareness of my dependency on our Divinity.
I will accept these observations as evidence of devotion. So I will use caution in my self judgement. After all, sobriety is about progress, not perfection. Life is about progress, not perfection. Relationships are about progress, not perfection.
I am also noting that my motivation for my practice is the energy and will to engage in life with you. That is good, as I used to be motivated totally by me. See how good you are for me. (My heart is just now doing a bit of a happy dance for us.)
You know the words to the song, right? “When you get a chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.” So, I now am hoping that you will dance.
Abhyasa: the ardent devotion to practice.
Ponder this. We can give ourselves credit for our progress.